Management Intensive Grazing to Enhance Heifer Rearing on Large Dairies in the Northeast
The overall goal of this project is to increase the use of Management Intensive Grazing for the raising of dairy heifers by large dairies. There are three components to this project: First, establish financial benchmarking for dairy heifer grazing systems. Second, measure change in maintenance needs of the grazing dairy heifers due to increased activity. And third, creating Fact Sheets covering the transition of the grazing of dairy heifers form confinement to the grazing system and back.
Developing Financial Benchmarks for the operation of heifer grazing systems. Three spread sheets were identified that could help with this objective. Working with farmer John Noto of Mamoser’s Dairy, the three methods were reviewed for accuracy and ease of use. The spread sheet which was developed by Jason Karses of Cornell’s Ag. Economics and Management was the one chosen. A questionnaire was developed to help in use of the spread sheet. A filled out example will be included in the Graphic Elements Section.
The animal portion of the study took place on the PI’s grazing operation. The animals were contracted from Hardie Farms Dairy. Measuring the maintenance needs of grazing heifers was a bit more complicated then was expected. At the writing of the grant it was expected that there were analog pedometers such as ones used in Cornell research in the 1980’s. When a search turned up none of these units, it was eventually decided the only units which would fit a pasture situation were units manufactured in Scotland. For 10 units, a wireless reader and software the price tag was $9,000. It took some time but additional funding was found to purchase the units for the project. Contributors included: Cornell ProDairy, Cornell Small Farm Program, NRCS-GLCI and Graze NY. There was also considerable effort to get the permission of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee to use these pedometers units. We had mixed results with the units. Four of the ten gave usable data. The company has agreed to replace all 10 units with their new model. The data from the 4 units will be compiled and compared to the data which is used in the “Cornell Net Carbohydrate Model” These pedometers will allow us to complete more detailed research with grazing animals. A pedometer report will be included in the Graphic Elements section.
In addition to the pedometer data readings with the Rising Plate Meter were taken before and after the group of heifers entered a paddock. This information is being compared to the size of the paddocks to determine how much dry matter was consumed by the heifers.
Creating Fact Sheets to aid in the transitioning of dairy heifers from confinement to pastures and back has yielded 4 draft proposals from Dr. Sam Leadley. They will be displayed in the Graphic Elements sections. Other fact sheets will be developed this spring.
- One heifer’s pedometer reading over two months
- Sam Leadley’s first fact sheet
- Grazing Costs for Benterra
This project developed a Facebook page for itself, the title of it is “The Girls of Summer” http://www.facebook.com/editprofile.php?sk=basic&success=1#!/pages/The-Girls-of-Summer/126506034060573 The site is unfinished and will have links to more info and a video that was created this summer.
I worked with project collaborator John Conway to write an article on grazing heifers for Cornell ProDairy’s magazine “The Manager” see portion of it at: http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/pdfs/pd2010Novemberp34.pdf
- Hardie farms Heifers at Benterra Custom Grazing System
- Fay Benson Weighing Heifers
- Heifer wearing IceTag Pedometer
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
I have worked on dairy heifer grazing for 5 years now while at Cornell Extension. I have received referrals from others in extension agents of producers looking to find information on grazing heifers. As an example I will be giving a review of this project at an event in March 2011. I will add it to the events calendar. I am planning a grazing system for an 800 cow farm presently. When economic numbers are compiled and fact sheets are finished we hope the roll out of this info will generate more interest in this concept.
3881 Hardt Road
Eden, NY 14057
Office Phone: 7168636480
Cornell Pro Dairy
123 Lake St
Cooperstown, NY 13326
Office Phone: 6075472536
Hardie Farm Inc
31 Holden Road
Lansing, NY 14882
Office Phone: 6072804348
Dairy Replacement Speacilist
Attica Vet Clinic
116 Prospect Street
Attica, NY 14011
Office Phone: 5855912660
Pine Hollow Dairy
Venice, NY 13147
Office Phone: 3154979384